This April, we’re commemorating the passing of the Fair Housing Act and honoring National Fair Housing Month by raising awareness of the importance of equal access to housing and by recognizing the progress that has been made in the fight against housing discrimination.
Housing stability has a significant impact on health outcomes, as there are many ways in which a lack of housing or poor-quality housing can negatively affect health and wellbeing. Experiencing housing instability may contribute to stress, anxiety, or other mental and physical health issues. Housing is a foundational resource that everyone needs. One goal of NCCARE360 is to provide access to resources to address housing needs. While housing services can be a complicated landscape, we aim to streamline the referral process and connect to coordinated referral systems that already exist. Late last year, NCCARE360 began piloting a Housing Referral Determination Screener built directly into the Unite Us Platform. This screener can assist network organizations in understanding what resources a person may be eligible for to address their housing crisis, with the goal of providing clarity about eligibility for housing programs and increase the quality of referrals to housing agencies and homeless service systems.
In addition to streamlining housing referral services, NCCARE360 has the potential to improve the overall quality of care for individuals and families by facilitating collaboration among service providers and ensuring that all needs are being met. This comprehensive approach to care is especially important for those experiencing homelessness or housing instability, as they often face complex and interconnected challenges.
Rachel Waltz, Program Manager at Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, uses NCCARE360 to help clients experiencing homelessness. Rachel has always had an orientation toward what felt just and fair as well as an interest in being an agent of change in her community. She decided to explore social work as an avenue of change for individuals, families, and communities when she learned the young people in her therapeutic wilderness program were returning home without the proper social supports needed to continue their growth and development. She now works to end homelessness because she knows that the housing crisis can affect any of us.
NCCARE360 fosters collaborations between service providers and people experiencing homelessness, which Rachel sees as the foundation of our success as a community. NCCARE360 is also allowing for a more equitable lens through which to help. She notes that the people who experience a housing crisis that is unable to resolve on its own are disproportionately Black and African American folks, and this inequity is happening because of policy decisions that have a harmful and persistent legacy.
“The NCCARE360 network enables us to pair folks with the right resources at the right time.” –Rachel Waltz
Rachel says NCCARE360 has been a game changer in terms of looking at how referrals can be sent through the service provider networks in addition to the Orange County Housing Helpline. To successfully find and keep housing once in the formal homeless service system, most folks need a navigator who can help connect them with the right resource at each stage in the process. The Partnership depends on service providers to help make informed referrals to ensure that someone with complex needs receives a higher level of assistance. The NCCARE360 network has enabled the Partnership to continue to focus on some of most vulnerable community members while offering a lighter touch to community members who can successfully meet their housing needs with less intensive intervention.
As we celebrate National Fair Housing Month, it is important to remember that equal access to housing is a fundamental human right. NCCARE360 is a tool that can help us move closer to that goal by streamlining the housing referral process and improving access to the resources individuals and families need to achieve stable housing and a brighter future.